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Motion: International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia

Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. I.K. Hunter:

That this council—

1. Recognises International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia on Tuesday 17 May that is also known as IDAHOBIT;

2. Notes that, since its first celebration in 2004, IDAHOBIT had drawn attention to the violence and discrimination experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people and all other people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities or expressions and sex characteristics; and

3. Congratulates the Malinauskas Labor government on its opposition to conversion therapy and its commitment to make sure that this practice does not occur in South Australia.

 

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I rise as the Greens' spokesperson on gender and sexuality to speak in strong support of this motion in its totality. I thank the Hon. Ian Hunter for bringing this day of public importance to the attention of this council. The Greens believe that all people have the right to their self-identified sex and gender. We do not tolerate the harassment, abuse, vilification, stigmatism or discrimination against a person simply because they are or are perceived to be intersex, transgender, bisexual, gay or lesbian. These are not issues of conscience for the Greens. They are issues of our policy, of common sense and, of course, of human rights.

On 17 May, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, IDAHOBIT, marks the day in 1990 that homosexuality was finally removed from the international classification of diseases of the World Health Organization and yet, over 30 years later, too much prejudice and intolerance remains in our society.

It is our responsibility as legislators to dismantle the institutions of discrimination wherever we find them. Our community is broad and varied. No two people are the same. No-one should be discriminated against for their gender, their sexuality, or for any other reason. Trans and gender diverse people often do experience discrimination at every turn: from family rejections, to school-based bullying, to street harassment and violence, all against a backdrop of the politics fuelling how they can choose to live their own lives.

Pre-pandemic research shows that one in three trans and gender diverse people in our country has experienced discrimination in their employment, resulting in an unemployment rate of 19 per cent. That is more than three times the national average. Additionally, one in four report discrimination in accessing health care, ranging from misgendering to outright refusal of care. Three in five have experienced verbal abuse and one in five has been physically assaulted for being trans or gender diverse.

Unsurprisingly, this constant and unrelenting stigma and discrimination has a detrimental impact on mental health and a 2021 study found that nearly half of Australia's trans and gender diverse population has attempted suicide, revealing the depth of the problem facing gender and sexuality diverse communities. Since the onset of the pandemic, the trans community has struggled significantly with job loss and financial strain, disruptions to their health care and social isolation from their support networks.

Most staggeringly, during the pandemic 61 per cent experienced clinically significant symptoms of depression and 49 per cent reported thoughts of self-harm or suicidal ideation. As I and many others have said before in this council, we do have to recognise the work of South Australia in leading the nation as the first state to decriminalise homosexual acts back in 1975. Of course the 1972 murder by drowning in Adelaide's Torrens River of Dr George Duncan raised public awareness of the widespread harassment of the gay community and resulted in that push for law reform, but we should not need murders to push for law reform.

This does not of course take away from the challenges still faced by the LGBTIQA+ community. That community and their allies are still deeply concerned about harmful and damaging conversion practices that are currently continuing legally in our state even today. A 2021 survey of over 600 LGBTIQA+ South Australians by the South Australian Rainbow Advocacy Alliance, known as SARAA, found that 85 per cent of respondents rated ending conversion practices as extremely important.

Psychological research has produced overwhelming clinical evidence that practices aimed at the reorientation of LGBTIQA+ people not only do not work but are extremely damaging to their long-term health and happiness. A 2018 joint report by the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society and the Human Rights Law Centre shares the voices and lived experience of 15 people with experiences of conversion therapy. It found that all those participants shared experiences of deep grief and, in some cases, anger over being told that they were broken and needed fixing. All have experienced a profound sense of loss at the lives they have had taken away from them.

More broadly, research shows that survivors of conversion practices commonly experience PTSD symptoms related to religious trauma, difficulty forming relationships and severe mental health difficulties, including the increased likelihood of thinking about self-harm, enacting self-harm, thinking about suicide and, of course, attempting suicide. With legislative bans on conversion practices now in place in Victoria, Queensland and the ACT, it is time for South Australians to step up and protect all in our community from harm.

This week, I attended the SARAA event for IDAHOBIT where they premiered their Rainbow Realities II video. Rainbow Realities II is a short film featuring four South Australians discussing their lived experience of discrimination, and how we, as allies, can take action against it. It is a short watch but an important watch, and I recommend it to all in the council. It does indeed have a South Australian victim survivor of conversion practices speaking. They have had their identity shielded, but their words are incredibly powerful for us as legislators and give hope to other victims or victim survivors that change is coming.

That film has been produced to support conversations about how individuals, organisations, governments, parliaments, and the community as a whole can support the LGBTIQA+ community here in our state and, of course, more broadly. I do encourage all members of parliament to watch it, practise active listening, and reflect on how we can all work together to make South Australia a safer and more inclusive place.

As part of IDAHOBIT, we celebrate all we have achieved, and we are rightly proud of what we have achieved in this state, but we also take this time to reflect on the work that still needs to be done. That work includes banning conversion practices. We need to strengthen our antidiscrimination laws and we need to continue to call out human rights abuse of the LGBTI community. Everybody deserves to feel safe and respected in our state. I have some small amendments, which I now move:

Paragraph 1—Leave out 'Tuesday'

The date 17 May fell on a Wednesday this week, so I have simply removed the day, but I have kept the date.

Paragraph 3—Leave out 'therapy' and insert 'practices'

This is a far more substantial amendment that I move, and I will explain why. Conversion practices are underpinned by ideologies that view LGBTQA+ people as broken, and they assert that they can be healed to live supposedly healthy, heterosexual lives or with a gender identity consistent with their sex assigned at birth. They encourage people to live sexually pure lives through celibacy or abstinence, and ultimately they aim for people to change their orientation, gender identity or de-transition.

These practices are damaging. They are not at all therapies. They are not therapeutic. Therefore, the community has asked that we use the term 'conversion practices', and certainly I would hope that members of the council will be willing to make that particular amendment in this motion. I also note that clinical or therapeutic formal methods of conversion practices such as conversion organisations, behavioural and psychoanalytic therapies, and clinical interventions have now largely ceased after being denounced by numerous professional health and human rights bodies, including the Australian Psychological Society and the Australian Medical Association (AMA), so indeed the use of the word 'therapy' is not at all appropriate when describing these particular practices.

I do note that there is a mooted amendment to remove the reference to the Malinauskas government promise and pledge to ban conversion practices. The Greens will not be supporting the amendment to remove those words. Indeed, we find that that is the most important part of this motion: the action that still needs to be taken. We congratulate the Malinauskas then opposition and now government for their promise. We look forward to them putting that promise through this parliament, and legislation to ban conversion practices being imminent.

The Premier has promised the people of South Australia he will keep all his election promises. I look forward to this one being here before we celebrate the next IDAHOBIT day and giving us one more thing to celebrate in this state. With that, I commend the motion.

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